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IBM upgrading to 56-kbps standard

Big Blue says its network will support the new v.90 modem technology standard, adding momentum to 56-kbps upgrades.

IBM announced today that it its Internet Connection Services is upgrading its network to support the new v.90 56-kbps modem technology standard, which will allow Netizens more flexibility when choosing both a modem and an access provider.

There still are two standards for 56-kbps modems, and Net users must shop around for an ISP that supports their particular modem flavor. But the new standard will eliminate this, especially if, as expected, v.90 is adopted throughout the Internet industry.

Several ISPs, including IBM, already offer their customers 56-kbps modem access. Now, they are likely to follow by adopting the new standard.

"This is a big win for the modem makers," said Lisa Pelgrim of Dataquest.

However, she warned that "the problems they're having will not be over. They are all having trouble financially--their revenues are down due to price competition. [With today's announcement], they will be able to justify selling 56-kbps products to end user."

Internet providers now offer 56-kbps access through 3Com's x2 technology or the K56flex technology supported by Lucent and Rockwell.

The IBM upgrade is being offered at more than 400 locations throughout the country. Big Blue is using 3Com's software technology.

The company previously supported x2 before the v.90 industry standard was implemented. 3Com has been providing its modem software code to other ISPs for the v.90 upgrade.

Additionally, other ISPs such as AT&T WorldNet, Sprint, MCI Communications, and America Online are testing 3Com technology for their network upgrades, a 3Com spokesman said.